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Duncan Knob - Luray, VA

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
8.7 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
2,200 ft with two different ascents
George Washington National Forest
Apple Blossom Inn
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Trail head and parking area for the Scothorn Gap Trail
Crisman Hollow Road/VA211 intermittently closes in the winter to traffic due to road deterioration. Check with the GWNF for gate status at 540-984-4101. 38.69127, -78.58014

Part of Middle Mountain in the George Washington National Forest, and sister hike to the Duncan Knob Hollow Hike, the Duncan Knob hike offers solitude, a rock scrabble, and great views of the Massanutten Range and Shenandoah Valley. Water is scarce over most of the hike, so make sure to bring plenty.

Start up yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail after crossing Passage Creek. Traverse one switch back and climb steeply, pass a clearing and pond (depending on what time of the year it is, the pond might be completely dry) at 1.0 miles.

At 1.3 miles come to a four way junction and the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail you have been on turns left. Directly ahead is the orange blazed Massanutten Trail, which you will use to return. To the right is Massanutten Connector Trail.

Turn left on Scothorn Gap Trail, the trail gradually rises and passes a small clearing before coming to the junction of blue blazed Gap Creek Trail after 1.5 miles from turning left at the junction.

Turn right onto blue blazed Gap Creek Trail as it ascends steeply to the ridge line in 0.3 miles. On the ridge line is a white blazed trail on the left. This leads you to Duncan Knob in 0.3 miles, requiring scrambling over rocks in places to get there.

To continue the hike return to Gap Creek Trail and Turn left. Note: it is easy to miss the trail on the way back, the white blazes in the rock field are hard to find. Just remain on the ridge line and you will reestablish the white trail if you miss it.

Take blue blazed Gap Creek Trail downward (steep) for 0.8 miles before meeting up with the orange blazed Massanutten Trail, at a four way junction, where you will turn right.

Turn right on Massanutten Trail for 1.8 miles. Veer right steeply upward for another 0.4 miles then descending 0.7 miles and returning to the four way junction you turned left at on the way up earlier. Massanutten Connector Trail turns left here.

Continue straight on the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail 1.3 miles, re-crossing Passage Creek and returning to the parking area.

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Hiker Reviews For The Duncan Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Duncan Knob hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 25, 2016
Originally planned to hike out the Scothorn Gap trail and up the blue Gap Creek to camp out on the ridge just below Duncan Knob. I've hiked the Duncan Knob Hollow trail loop previously in the winter and it's great, but this is a muddy boggy mess in the spring/summer. The initial ascent was very wet and you'll be taking your shoes off to cross Passage Creek. Lots of ticks on the way up to the the first four way intersection, so bring bug spray and/or wear pants tucked into socks.

Started down the Scothorn Gap trail after the four way intersection and ended up turning around due to the amount of water on the path. At least 6-7 inches in some areas that are unavoidable. Luckily I knew that there are a couple camping spots out on Strickler Knob, so we turned around and hiked up the Massanutten trail taking the red/pink knob trail on top of the ridge. Overall it ended up being a great overnight trip and we got a great campsite with an amazing view of the Shenandoah River Valley.

I won't be back out here anytime soon. This is certainly a 4-5 star trail in the fall/winter, but i'd avoid in spring/summer. Especially with all the recent rain.

By: yoshi Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2016
Duncan knob is really nice. Climbing up rocks was fun. But there were many ticks, my wife and I found 14 ticks during hiking. We had to check often and we always found a couple ticks. Also there were a lot of muddy places.

By: Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Truly lovely views from the summit, but I wish I had heeded the warning of the person below who hiked in May 2014 and mentioned how muddy it was! The trail was quite boggy and buggy, which took away from some of the enjoyment. Overall it was a nice hike, but not one I'd plan to repeat, even in a different season.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 09, 2016
I hiked this on a very windy April Saturday with 10 members of Central Virginia Trailblazers as part of our yearlong "Knobsession" series of hikes.  We didn't have any trouble navigating the trail, but we did get a little confused near the rock scramble at the base of Duncan Knob.  Apparently we missed a turn, but we got back on track and made it to the top.  We were able to find a lunch spot that was protected from the wind yet still had a great view of the valley...even saw a few snowflakes.  We passed only a couple of hikers the entire day.  All in all a great day to be hiking.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, November 26, 2015
Overall, this is an excellent hike. The most fun part is the rock scramble up Duncan Knob you don't need any true bouldering skills, nor are you hoisting yourself up at any point, but you are climbing up and over decent-sized rocks to a great view at the top (it's cold and windy up there). The trail itself was relatively easy except for one part (to understand the following comments, you need to read the directions). After climbing (or not) Duncan Knob, you resume the Gap Creek trail (blazed in blue). The descent is fairly steep, but the grade isn't the problem. The trail narrows very considerably and it's covered in leaves (remember that I hiked in late November), so it becomes quite slippery. Moreover, if you do lose your footing, you will fall off the trail to the left. The drop isn't precipitous (you're not going to die or even break a bone), but you will get plenty of cuts and bruises. I am usually sure-footed, but this part of the trail challenged me at times. Some parts of the trail were also very muddy. The directions on Hiking Upward are generally good, and perhaps I missed a turn, but after I finished Gap Creek, I came to a three-way intersection, not a four-way intersection it has two wooden signs. Go right, as the directions say. The sign says that Scothorn Gap is 2 miles away I didn't measure it, but it felt longer than 2 miles. Unlike other hikers, I didn't experience any bugs (again, remember that I hiked in late November), and I saw no wildlife. If you like rock scrambles, this is a wonderful hike.

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